NEW YORK — The small cast and crew of a big-screen film starring Lin-Manuel Miranda, though working around his “Hamilton” schedule, put a premium on shooting their movie quickly.
That’s because a coming-of-age story about aspiring Cuban-American novelist Luis Valdez must be finished on time. The actor who plays Valdez, Raul Castillo, was cast only last month, and producer Thea Sharrock found the people in the other roles through an exhaustive search for Latino actors.
That approach paid off in the film’s release, which had the benefit of marketing fuel from “Hamilton.” The movie has sold out showings at more than 50 theaters nationally.
Valdez’s autobiography tells of his struggle to excel in mainstream Cuba and the promise that he had of making a name for himself in the U.S. In the process, he grapples with American racism and a life as a drug addict.
Although Miranda has had success in movies with “In the Heights” and “Moana,” he’s unperturbed by comparisons to “Hamilton,” which has yet to win a Tony Award.
“You get older, you make more movies and more choices and know that there are more expectations of these projects,” Miranda said. “You know that you have to deliver and deliver in a way that feels like an ambitious movie. That’s the challenge for me now.”
Miranda is set to direct a live version of the Disney animated hit “The Little Mermaid” later this year. He’s also writing and producing a film version of “Mary Poppins Returns” with collaborators, including Emily Blunt.
“I don’t ever think that ‘Hamilton’ is my life,” he said. “It’s the most spectacular chapter in my life so far. But even so, if there’s a place for ‘Hamilton’ in someone’s life, there’s certainly a place for me in theirs. And, honestly, I think that the people who have done this to us are just proving it over and over again with this film.”
The film, “Encanto,” is up for an Independent Spirit Award.